Finding Roses in the Sierra Nevada Foothills – part 1

I spent nearly a week in June hunting roses, and came home with cuttings or suckers of 35 plants. Here is an account of the trip, but first a few words for people who have not done rose rustling and are thinking of doing some rustling themselves. First, you need to know how to start roses from cuttings. Practice on roses you already have, or get cuttings from friends. Second, travel with the equipment you need so the cuttings won’t die waiting for you to get home and process them. Third, always get permission from the rose owner before taking cuttings. I say this because of some of the questions I’ve been asked, and some of the stories I’ve heard. The point of rose rustling is to preserve and protect old roses that may be endangered. The original plant is left in place.

I left Santa Cruz on election day, after voting and running a few errands, and headed for Judy’s house in the foothills east of San Andreas. She has been collecting cuttings of old roses in the foothills for 15 years, and has sufficient acreage to plant all the results. I had a tour  of her garden which is amazing. As we walked around, she kept reaching down to pull out invasive weeds. Besides roses she had many varieties of native plants, lots of trees, rhododendrons, rock gardens, shade gardens, new gardens, established gardens, many projects in progress.  Judy is a Master Gardener as well as a rosarian.

Wednesday morning, Judy had someone coming for awhile, so we got a late start on the rose hunt. We started driving toward San Andreas, and stopped in Mountain Ranch. There is an early hybrid tea by the realtor’s office. Something along the lines of La France. I collected a couple cuttings and put them in an already prepared band in a terrarium in the back of my car. We chatted with the realtor for a few minutes, then continued down the road. The Giannini property had a tea rose that Judy had only noticed the week before. We talked to Mrs. Giannini, and found out that the house where she lived was the second house on the property, so a tea rose would not be so unusual there. They were popular through the 1920s or so, but hybrid teas and other modern roses took over after that. This tea was one I hadn’t seen before- a deep yellow center with lighter edges. The base of the outer petals has a bit of green, something I’ve used to identify Devoniensis, but that rose doesn’t have a yellow center. I speculated that this tea was a seedling of Devoniensis. Mrs. Giannini kindly let us take cuttings. (A friend in France has suggested that the rose might be ‘Jean Pernet’, a yellow seedling of ‘Devoniensis’ from 1867. I’m hoping he is right, because that would be a wonderful rose to have found- it’s no longer in any public gardens or nurseries.)

Giannini Tea

In San Andreas, Judy took me by two white multifloras. Both were spectacular plants, covered in bloom. The first, called “Gatewood” is fuller than most white multiflora hybrids, not opening flat to show stamens. The second, called “Bellview”  has a more orderly, imbricated arrangement of petals than usually seen in multifloras.

Gatewood multiflora

Bellview mulriflora

I’ve been told that the Bellview multiflora could be Pemberton’s White Rambler. It also resembles another rose at the Heritage Rose Garden that came from a cemetery in Volcano.

Part 2:


About Jill Perry

Since 2005, I have been the Curator of the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden, a part of Guadalupe River Parks and Gardens near downtown San Jose. I write about the Heritage Rose Garden, my garden and my travels when I feel inspired and have time. Since I have no regular schedule, if you'd like to know when I write a new article, please subscribe to this blog.
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